The paper will address the variables of including teens in the electoral decisions by lowering the voting age from 18 to 16. The paper will address whether the individual feels positive, effect on the sense of responsibility, character, and societal expectations of teens. My stand on this issue is that 16 year olds should be allowed to vote since they are responsible enough to make wise decisions.
They are five rules that govern elections in Chicago. The first rule is one should be a United States citizen. The person should at least 18 years old on the election date is the second rule. An individual should not be convicted and in jail, the voter should not register to vote elsewhere and be a resident 30 days prior to the election are the third, fourth and fifth rules respectively (De Capua, 2002).
Suffrage is the right to vote through the democratic process. Contemporary readers typically believe that everyone who is an adult citizen in the United States has always had the right to vote. However, it was not until 1870 that race, color, or former slaves could vote; not until 1920 that women could vote; and not until 1971 that citizens 18 years or older could vote.
Essentially, from a socio-political viewpoint, the right to vote based on the Constitution prohibits legal discrimination for race, color, gender, or age; States may, in fact, deny the process of voting for other reasons (Lankford, 2007). The last major piece of legislation, the
26th Amendment to the Constitution, was quickly passed during the height of the Vietnam
Conflict, when many found a great deal of psychological and moral hypocrisy in sending 18 year olds to fight a war, but denying them the right to vote. Most recently, the question of lowering the voting age to 16 has become quite controversial. Piaget’s theory final stage (formal operational stage, 11 years to adulthood) argues that children are able to think more deeply. They weigh matters and their consequence before doing them or apply the principal of trial-and-error (Cole, 2005). This paper will focus on the basic question surrounding the idea of lowering the voting age to 16 – psychological and psycho-social maturity.
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They are many arguments that support that the voting age should be lowered to 16 years. Currently 16 year-olds are allowed to have driving license, make decision to join the military or marriage. This shows that they are mature enough to elect people to represent them in parliament. The views of young people are often sought after a bill affecting them has been passed (N.Y.R.O, 2012).
Opponents of lowering the voting age believe that 16 year-olds are not mature enough to make a logical decision. The current age limit does not mean that all adults are capable of making informed decisions. The teens are sometimes more informed on current issues than most adults. How many adults don’t know the name of their governor? Even some do not know the number of states in America, yet they are allowed to vote. If intelligence is to be considered, then all voters should be going through a test before they vote (De Capua, 2002). The fact that 16 year-olds are capable of making a serious decision like marriage, and then they are capable of making sound decisions.
Wise men say “a habit is a disease”, if they are allowed to start voting at 16, they are likely to understand the importance of voting. This will increase the voter turnout as it is a good habit they picked early. Adults try to stop bad habits by teens but not impose good habits. A survey conducted showed that Kid Voting encourages adults to vote. Adults will be discus politics with the kids and it will increase the interest of voting (Cole, 2005).
Since taxes are the bases of representation, the 16 year-olds should vote if we apply the principal of democracy. Politicians usually do not worry on issues that affect the youths since they know that they cannot vote for or against them. The supporters of this cause believe youths have lost hope in the government and feel undervalued. To improve the relationship between them and the government they should be allowed to vote (Lankford, 2007).
For several years the voting age has been 18. However, this considered the most crucial part of life as most of this young adults move out. Some of them register in new places they are unfamiliar with or lack the spirit to go back home and vote. The decisions of a community influence the lives of the 16 year-olds hence should be given the right to vote (Lankford, 2007)
Why should 16 year olds pay taxes and yet not have a say on how money is spent? This is the major conflict between supporters and opponents of lowering the voting age. The opponents believe each person pays tax either directly or indirectly. However, the supporters argue that teens contribute a huge amount of tax and should be allowed to vote like all taxpaying adults (Lankford, 2007).
In referring to Lankford (2007) they are no wrong votes. Voters usually have a reason to vote for a certain candidate. We should respect the decisions made by any voter regardless of their age. However, those opposing argue that the 16 year old votes will be wrong since they are not informed.
The modern century is characterized by a well informed generation of the youth. The exposure of the youth is not limited in the political front. The exposure the youths have in politics is enough to enable them make proper decision during voting (Lankford, 2007). The author further argues that the relationship between the young and generation have been made effective by their need to be equally represented in government bodies. In a research highlighted by De Capua (2002) 8 out of 10 16 year olds wished that they could be more represented and considered in administration policies. This need for representation is enough to guide a sixteen year old to cast a ballot reasonably.
A modern sixteen year old is exposed to numerous information channels on the political direction of their country. This can be attributed to the vast relationship with the social media. The social media has opened a platform which provides information to these curious members of our society. It is estimated that 75 percent of youths above the age of 16 are exposed to the social media (Cole, 2005). The social media is capable of transmitting 50 percent of the information acquired by the youths (N.Y.R.O, 2012). The modern social media has become conscious of the issues affecting the society as a whole. This exposure has enlightened the young generation making them significant issues in society. With the age of 18 being referred to as the maturity stage, this has changed as younger teenagers become more sensitive to issues affecting the society.
Giving the 16 years olds a chance to vote will be giving voice to this unspoken population. This population will bring about another change that cannot be effected by the older generation. The issues put across by 16 years olds may be long term solutions to give power to the young generation. In an argument by Lankford (2007) it is a fact that the 16 year olds in the current century cannot be compared to 16 year olds a century back. The society need to create a platform at which teenagers are equipped with power to influence at a younger age. This is reiterated by De Capua (2002) who says that teenagers voting at the age of 16 will give them a sense of responsibility and a sense of power. Creating responsible citizens at the age of 16 will consequently lead to a society of respectable and well groomed future generation. It is from these assumptions and analysis that analyst have concluded that it will be advantageous to states across the United States to allow teenagers to vote at the age of 16.
The capability of 16 year olds to vote can also be proven by the Piaget theory of growth. In this theory, a teenager above the age of 15 is capable of making high sensitive decisions. The theory argues that at this age a teenager’s decision cannot be influenced against their will. According to Cole (2005) the theory has proven that the ability of a teenager reaches full potential at the age of 15. The author further argues that this confirms that it would not be a waste of opportunity if teenagers are allowed to participate in elections at the age of 16. Additionally, the theory confirms that a teenager above the age of 15 develops more character when they are indulged in significant responsibility at this age.
Teenagers indulge din voting at this may become indulged in changing the trend relationship between teenagers and politics. They will get more inclined in putting their views across the political field. This is very important at a time when the young population is accused for staying away from politics. In an analysis by Cole (2005) the youth are not sensitized enough on the need to participate in politics. The analysis reports that 5 out of 10 teenagers below the age of 26 do not value the political field of the society. This statistics could be changed by indulging them into politics at a younger age. This can be proven by the Piaget theory of development. Jean Piaget states that empowering an individual with information and responsibility before attaining full maturity, may positively impact on the life of this individual in terms of taking up the instilled responsibility. Apart from raising a responsible generation, getting teenagers to vote at the age of 16 may create a generation of political sensitive individuals.
However, the capacity of the modern teenager to make sound political decision shave been raised by critics of this move. They argue that the significance of a 16 year old vote is as insignificant as their absence in the ballot (De Capua, 2002). However, this can be refuted by facts. For instance, Chicago has a significant number of teenagers at the age of 16. If this population would join their 17, 18 and 19 counterparts, their significance at the ballot would be very influential. Lankford (2007) argues that this number could easily lead to a change the teenagers need in power. The society should give teenagers a voice. Teenagers should have the power in their hands to change the administration of the states and countries. This is only achievable if they have the number to influence the results of the ballot. This could be easily done by giving a go ahead for the voting population to begin at the tender age of 16. In this way the society would be enabled to raise a society of responsible young generation.
Cole, M. (2005). The Development of Children. New York. Worth Publishers
De Capua, S. (2002). Voting. Colorado:Scholastic Library
Lankford, D. (2007). Should the voting age be lowered? New York: Cengage Learning
National Youth Rights Organization. (2012). Top Ten Reasons to Lower the Voting Age. Retrieved from http://www.youthrights.org/vote10.php